WASHINGTON — The wait to bring America’s oldest soccer trophy back to Philadelphia for the first time since 1966 will continue for another year. The Union were ousted by D.C. United in their first game of the U.S. Open Cup, 2-1, in extra time, Wednesday night at Audi Field.
And it happened in dramatic fashion: Anthony Fontana put the Union ahead in the 114th minute, then watched D.C. score two goals after that to turn the game around.
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The contest was slow to open up. Ilsinho and Fafa Picault had decent chances to score for the Union in the first half and Mark McKenzie made a goal-line clearance, but there were few other major moments.
Matt Freese, starting in net for the Union for the first time since May 2, made his first save of the game just 45 seconds into the first half. Jamiro Monteiro had a great look from 12 yards in the 69th minute and hit a fine curling shot, but D.C. goalkeeper Chris Seitz — who played for the Union in 2010 — did well to save it.
With extra time looming and with a weak bench from the start, Union manager Jim Curtin didn’t make a substitution until the 90th minute. Regulation duly ran out, and, as extra time began, Mother Nature added to the drama with a hard rainstorm.
At that point, the Union looked better in the box score, with a 19-9 edge in shots, including 9-5 on target.
Fontana had played just nine minutes with the Union this season before he took the field as a substitute, but he was in the right place to deliver the breakthrough. Fellow sub Zach Zandi, a Bethlehem Steel call-up, started the play by dispossessing Wayne Rooney. Monteiro took the loose ball and threaded it through a crowd, and Fontana pounced for a close-range finish.
The lead lasted only three minutes. Rooney served up a corner that flew just over Freese’s outstretched hands, and Chris McCann rose high to head it in.
Rooney won the game on D.C’s next foray down the field. Mark McKenzie upended Luciano Acosta in the 18-yard box, referee Marcos de Oliveira immediately pointed to the penalty spot, and the English star smashed in his shot.